Why reform?

The EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is a dynamic policy which, through successive reforms, has been adapted to new challenges faced by European agriculture. These challenges include more sustainable use of natural resources, climate change, increased competition from global markets and the need to maintain thriving rural areas across the EU.

The CAP needs to continue to ensure viable food production and a stable food supply, while taking into account food safety, the rural economy, animal welfare, and social and environmental concerns.

The CAP reform

The new CAP covers the period from 2014 to 2020. This was the first time that CAP reform was adopted under the ordinary legislative procedure, where the Council co-legislates with the European Parliament. Final adoption of the legal texts by the Council took place on 16 December 2013.

The reform entered into force in January 2014. Many of the new rules only apply from 2015 to ensure that member states have enough time to roll out the new policy and to inform and prepare farmers.

Simplification of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)

The simplification exercise aims to improve the implementation of CAP policies in certain areas

The reform is fully in line with the fundamental principles of the Common Agricultural Policy. These will continue to focus on providing sufficient high-quality safe food at affordable prices to consumers in the EU and globally. At the same time, the reform fully respects EU rules on animal welfare and the environment, and ensures a fair standard of living for European farmers.

The reformed CAP includes:

  • the 'greening' of farm payments, through the introduction of environmentally sound farming practices, such as crop diversification, and maintaining ecologically rich landscape features and a minimum area of permanent grassland
  • more equality in the distribution of support in order to reduce the biggest differences in the levels of income support received by farmers across the EU, and a reduction in payments above a certain amount for the biggest farms
  • better targeting of income support to farmers most in need, particularly young farmers, farmers in low income sectors and farmers in areas with natural constraints

The CAP's pillar structure is maintained. Pillar 1 includes income support and market management measures, while pillar 2 covers rural development.

New CAP budget

The CAP budget for 2014-2020 represents around 38% of the overall EU budget. The total amount of CAP spending for during the 7-year period is €408.31 billion.

The annual budget should decrease during the 2014-2020 period. In terms of commitments, the CAP budget in 2020 should represent a reduction of around 15% compared to 2013.